When candidates and campaign volunteers arrived at the JFK library on West 49th Street, they found a freshly painted stripe boundary that seemed further from the polling place than the 100-foot requirement -- because it was -- and police placing barricades along the last parking aisle "for public safety." Hialeah Police Commander Oscar Amago told Ladra police were going to try to keep the three camps separated. "We're going to create areas so everyone has the equal amount of space and make sure nobody gets hit by a car," Amago said. "But, during the county mayoral campaign, there was a normal flow and people got to walk around freely -- behind their boundary -- and nobody got hit by a car," Ladra said. Long silence. Steely stare. "Well, I just want to make sure that nobody's rights are violated," I added. "Thank you for your concern," Amago said and walked away.Police Chief Marc Overton tried to tell former Mayor Raul Martinez to call City Clerk David Concepcion about the matter when Martinez complained. But the boss would have none of it. "The city clerk doesn't know what he's doing. This is a matter of law," said Martinez, who had spoken to former Miami-Dade Election Supervisor Lester Sola earlier in the morning to establish that the 100-foot rule still applied. "The law hasn't changed," Martinez told Overton.
Soon after, a second line -- much closer, at the 100-foot mark -- was drawn. And, for the most part, it was respected. Su alcaldito Carlos Hernandez crossed it to walk a little old lady to the polls, but Ladra was later told that was his grandmother so that has to be okay. And former State Sen. Rudy Garcia -- who put on a big, intimidating show by bringing a busload and a half of voters from his campaign headquarters and flying a plane banner overhead at noon with his I heart Hialeah slogan and "I want to save Hialeah" -- helped some voters get off the bus but was told he couldn't do it there because it was within the 100-foot boundary. The driver had to move the vehicle a few feet.
The rest of the day was even more uneventful. In fact, the candidates -- and everybody showed up except for George "Who?" Castro -- were cordial and humorous with each other, even if sarcastic at that. Hernandez told Martinez he could call him "interim mayor" -- as Martinez, who was elected mayor eight separate times likes to remind the appointed alcaldito. "Until Nov. 16. Then you have to call me mayor," Hernandez said, wide smile on his face, chest bulging from his tight, orange muscle shirt. "In your dreams," Martinez said, and chuckled.
It was a very good day for him as a good number of voters gave him the thumbs up or came up to embrace him or rolled down their car window to tell him that he was their candidate. Martinez moved around the parking lot quite a bit while Garcia stayed on the platform on the east side of the library entrance and Hernandez paced on the east side of the parking lot and platform."I love this. You know? My back doesn't even hurt," said Martinez, who had back surgery last month and had complained after being forced to stand for more than two hours during the taping for a televised TV debate. "I can't stay away from this. Who cares about making money?" He seemed like a new man walking around and greeting voters and volunteers -- as well as other candidates -- fetching Raul Martinez-for-mayor caps for the kids who came by and generally holding court. There was certainly more fanfare around him than around Garcia -- and poor Hernandez was by himself most of the time unless he had his security guard Glen "The Goon" Rice next to him.
"Glen, come here," he would shout, feathers obviously ruffled whenver Rice would be seen talking to Ladra -- who he took several front and backside photographs of -- or Professor Alex Morales or one of Garcia's drivers. Su alcaldito doesn't like the blurring of the lines. But other candidates certainly did not mind crossing political lines to pass the day. Martinez joked with Garcia and Hernandez and greeted every candidate except Vega (more on that later). Councilwoman Vivian Casals-Muñoz -- who takes credit for the cordiality after setting the example at the business dinner earlier this month -- spent some time talking with both of the opponents in her race, Danny Bolaños and Tony "Phony" Vega. Council President Isis "Gavelgirl" Garcia-Martinez said good morning to everyone (including Ladra) and was seen whispering sweet nothings into former Police Chief Rolando Bolaños ear. She also chatted with his son Danny and former Mayor Julio Martinez. Hernandez greeted Garcia's biker dude baby brother Chris Garcia. Former Hialeah Housing Authority commissioner Lourdes Lozano, the alcaldito's pick against Morales, greeted and chatted with Lizzie Lago, wife of council candidate Frank Lago.
Maximo "Rambo" Iglesias, Lizzie's dad, almost had some angry words for Casa Marin restaurant owner Diosdado Marin, because of Marin's statements on the radio about Lizzie's unsuccessful council run in 2007 (she beat Lozano, who came in fourth, not like Marin said) and Lago's unsuccessful state rep run earlier this year (he came in second, not third).
On Sunday, the police were called to the law office of Miriam Hernandez across the street from the library after the pachanga that the Garcia camp apparently got too loud. An officer told Ladra that there was a complaint against the noise and that they were there to enforce the county ordinance.
Campaign volunteers turned the music down.
A total of 386 peole voted on Saturday and 315 voted on Sunday. Early voting resumes from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week. More to come later.